- Measurables: 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, senior F from Vanderbilt
- Key Stats: 16.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 49 percent and 42 percent from three
- Projected: Late first round
- Hickory High Similarity Score
Why I’m intrigued by this guy
There’s really little chance that Jeff Taylor would rise enough to be in play in the late lottery when the Pistons pick and there’s little chance he falls out of the 20s, where he’s currently projected, to the earlier of the Pistons’ second round picks. Still though, he’s the type of efficient shooting wing they should be hoping they can land in the draft. Plus, he’d give the Pistons the only two Swedish players in NBA history along with Jonas Jerebko. Any time you can become the most popular NBA team in Sweden, you have to do it, right?
Pros for the Pistons
Taylor is was of the best outside shooters in the country this season, hitting 42 percent of his threes. He’s also an explosive athlete and willing defensive player. In short, he’s about the prototypical wing the Pistons need right now as they are incredibly deficient in shooting, defense and athleticism on their wings right now. Not only would Taylor’s shooting ability stretch the floor and open lanes for Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight, who are both much better in a faster tempo than in the halfcourt, but he would be able to run with them and finish.
Cons for the Pistons
Taylor’s not the best at creating off the dribble, which wouldn’t be much of an issue in Detroit since Stuckey, Knight and Tayshaun Prince handle that. The bigger issue with Taylor is simply his availability. As I said above, he’s currently projected too low for the Pistons to consider him in the lottery and too high for them to have a shot at him in the second round. But don’t sleep on him. He’s EXACTLY the type of under the radar, hard-working and productive prospect who can rise quickly with great workouts. If he does that and some of the underwhelming late lottery bigs, well, underwhelm, don’t be shocked if he plays his way into that conversation. Considering he does things that fill some very significant needs for the Pistons and that Joe Dumars has occasionally shown an inclination towards taking under the radar prospects (Stuckey, for instance), it’s maybe not out of the realm that he could play his way onto Detroit’s first round radar, depending on how the draft plays out before they pick.
What others are saying
The Good: Taylor is one of the best athletes in the game. He’s an explosive leaper who excels out in transition. He has dramatically improved his jump shot over the past four years.
The Bad: He still struggles to dominate offensively at times and his aggression level can vary depending on the matchup. He’s already 22 years old, which hurts his stock a little.
The Upside: Taylor finally had the breakout year NBA scouts were hoping for as a senior. His athletic ability alone makes him a legitimate first-round prospect. If he were to land on the right team, he could have a great pro career. He’s wilted a bit in big games over the past few years. If he can take over in the tournament, he could take one more big step up the draft board.
While Taylor’s offensive game remains a work in progress, he is still an outstanding defender who should be able to contribute immediately in the NBA on that end of the floor. While his reported 6’6 wingspan is unimpressive to say the least, he has excellent lateral quickness to stay in front of all but the quickest point guards and the strength to guard four positions at the collegiate level. Furthermore, and as we have written before, his fundamentals are superb across the board, giving him the chance to be a real presence on this end of the floor at the next level.
NBADraft.net: You are known as a defensive stopper and have been an All-SEC defender the past 2 seasons. What is it that sets you apart from other players on the defensive side of the ball?
Jeffery Taylor: I take a great deal of pride in not letting my man score. I think that is the most important thing. You have to take pride in not letting your man score and everything else takes care of itself. It isn’t all about athletic ability. I feel like defense is all about your mentality and how you approach the game.
NBADraft.net: How does it feel when you shut down the other team’s best player?
Jeffery Taylor: It feels really good. It is definitely something that has always been important to me. I take it personal if a guy scores on me. Definitely being a stopper and people being able to rely on me on the defensive end is definitely the type of player I want to be. It is the kind of player I’ve always been.
Taylor wasn’t flawless Sunday, but he did a lot of things to make those apathetic NBA scouts take notice. His combination of ball skills and penetrating ability comes packaged in a wide, well-built 6-foot-6 frame. His athleticism allowed him to turn one drill — in which campers were asked to catch the ball, pivot, and lay it in with their opposite hand — into a surprisingly impressive dunkfest. When campers were shown a series of three- and four-stage ball moves (“OK, this is a crossover, then a stepback, then a BIG step through the lane, and then we want a clean finish over coach, who will be standing on that chair near the goal. Everyone got it?”), perhaps only North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes and Kentucky guard Doron Lamb picked up the instruction with the same immediate ease as the Vanderbilt swingman.
What is the best thing Jeff Taylor does for his team?
Taylor’s best attribute for the Commodores came from his defense. As a three time All-SEC defender, Taylor was counted on to cover the opposing team’s top scorer at the 1-4 positions. As a senior, he held Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to 5.7 points per game in three matchups with Kentucky and covered everyone from Kenny Boynton to Tobias Harris through his career.
While that defense made him a standout player early in his career, his work ethic was what set him apart as he developed. Taylor was always a high level athlete for the Commodores, but he had difficulty syncing those gifts to his natural talents. He improved throughout his time in Nashville to fill in the holes in his game. The most popular stat that people point to is his improved shooting; Taylor went from being a 9.1% three-point shooter to connecting on 42.3% of those shots as a senior. However, another story from earlier in his career might better showcase his dedication. After getting pushed around his sophomore year, he came back to Vanderbilt with 25 added pounds of muscle. Despite the added bulk, Taylor was more explosive than ever on the court.
Jeffery Taylor played four years at Vanderbilt and he’s shown continual improvement on the court. He’s far from a finished product, but he’s got the defensive talent and shooting to contribute right away at the NBA level. I think his value will rise since he’s got talents that will shine in individual workouts and combine type measurements, but whoever invests a pick on the senior will get a good return on their investment.
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